England bracing themselves for abuse in Australia
SPOTLIGHT: Eddie Jones insists England are ready to hunt down the Wallabies as they prepare for confrontation on and off the pitch during their three-Test tour of Australia.
Jones has named a 36-man squad that features recalls for No.8 Billy Vunipola and scrumhalf Danny Care, but counts Joe Marler, Ben Youngs and Elliot Daly as big-name omissions.
England’s last visit to Australia in 2016 ended with a series whitewash of the Wallabies but Jones and his tourists were forced to overcome a coordinated campaign of disruption off the pitch, including the coach facing a prolonged search of his luggage at Brisbane Airport.
As a taster of what is to come, the host broadcaster has produced a trailer to the series in which obnoxious and sunburnt red rose fans drink tea and eat cakes before being interrupted by Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou.
“We’ve got to go after them. We’ve got a whole intention of going after them,” said Jones, who has won all eight meetings with Australia as England coach.
“Davie Rennie’s sides traditionally want to play on the front foot, so it’s going to be about who wins the front foot.
“There will be really hard, flat tracks and abusive crowds. They are in the face, the Australians. The media are going to be in our face – they are aggressive.
“It’s a really aggressive environment. You can learn so much about your players and your squad on those tours and we’ve missed that.
“I’m sure it’ll be fun. For Australians, it’s the biggest tour and it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be fantastic for rugby and it’s going to be fantastic for our squad.”
#⃣INTERVIEW: @wallabies wing and #RugbyLeague convert Suliasi Vunivalu says he’s ready to face @EnglandRugby in the three-Test series next month despite his limited #RugbyUnion experience#Rugby 🏉#AUSvENG🇦🇺V🏴
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) June 21, 2022
Vunipola is one of 10 survivors from the 2016 tour, but this time around he is looking to re-establish himself in the back row having been frozen out since the 2021 Six Nations.
A combination of his bulldozing form, culminating in a mighty afternoon for Saracens against Leicester in Saturday’s Premiership Final, and injuries to preferred No.8s Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds have resulted in his recall.
England have missed his direct carrying and with big centre Manu Tuilagi absent through injury, Vunipola could have an important role to play against the Wallabies.
“Billy can definitely bring power. He’s got that dexterity and subtle hands. When he’s at his best, which we think he’s close to now, he gives you something a little bit different,” Jones said.
“When players have had a lot of success there are some that are continually hungry for success and can’t live without it. Then there are some that sit back a little bit.
“He probably sat back a little bit and sometimes it takes a reminder to get them to sit forward a bit more. He’s had that reminder and we’re optimistic that we’ll see the best of him in the Test arena.”
Care was also involved six years ago and his exile from the England team has lasted even longer as he targets a first cap since falling out with Jones in 2018.
“The Australian tracks are typically hard and fast and the first game we play on in Perth is an AFL track so it’s for thoroughbreds. It suits Danny. He’s on top of the ground,” Jones said.